The Grains of Time

Author: Amoral Butterfly (formerly Demonic Angel)
Rating: M
Genre: Angst, Romance
Pairing: Seto/Jounouchi; Sub-Pairings: Yami/Yugi, Bakura/Ryou
Disclaimer: The characters portrayed in this piece of written fiction do not belong to me but to Kazuki Takahashi. As such, I claim neither profit nor recognition for this work.

For nine years Jounouchi has held on to a dark secret, but when it can no longer be concealed, everyone will be forced to face the devastating truth.

Warning: Yaoi, slash, homosexuality – whatever you want to call it. Also be aware of severe angst, violence and child abuse. There may also be spelling and grammar errors, as well as the incorrect usage of modern medical theory. Other warnings later as necessity dictates. Read with caution.

Update: October, 2006
Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. WHEN did I start this fic? 2001? I feebly offer my deepest apologies to all those who have read and no longer read this fic due to massive irresponsibility on my part. I doubt people are still reading this. I mean, just look at how large the Yugioh fandom's grown. I'm such an old geezer. I can remember way back when this ficdom had less than 3000 entries on ffnet. Anyway, I tried to shoulder the responsibility of writing a great fic, and obviously failed. I've disappointed many readers, I know, so they've all moved on to the more skilled, and more responsible authors out there.

Nevertheless, I will try to finish this fic.
If there's anything I can do for my beloved readers to make up for the atrocity of a seemingly dead fic, please let me know.

Chapter One: Signs

Dark amber eyes bored into the ceiling of a plain room. Spread out upon sheets of faded green, ruffled strands of honey glistened in the few faded beams of moonlight that had managed to seep in through cracks despite the boarded shutters.

Not much time left for me, I guess. Joey thought, somewhat without emotion. Maybe a year, if I'm lucky. It's already begun to show...

- Begin Flashback Sequence -

His mother stared at him with expressionless eyes; a doctor of an unspecified medical branch dressed in white standing rigidly beside her. Both adults held papers in their hands and copies of CT scans were displayed ominously on the wall. Confused, the frightened eyes of a seven year old Joey flicked nervously from the papers to the adults, then back again.


His voice came out slightly shrill and odd sounding in the dull silence of the room. Still, his mother continued to stare at him, maybe even silently accusing him with her eyes. The doctor, realizing that they weren't going to get anywhere this way, decided to break the silence.

"Jounouchi. There's something that you need to know." His voice was slow and gentle.

"We've delayed telling you this since you were born." Jounouchi's mother abruptly cut in. "But now that you're older, your father and I feel that you are ready to know."

There was a slight pause, and young Jounouchi's throat constricted in sudden fear. The doctor continued.

"In your brain is a tumor, what we would often call brain cancer. Unfortunately, this rare form of cancer has left you with a considerably shorter lifespan, no more than an estimated ten years longer, in fact. While benign at the moment, over time..." What began as a rush died off, the words suffocated by the weight of the words.

Jounouchi stared, wide eyed at the two grown ups in front of him. It was hard to process what they had just said for he was, after all, only seven. His mother knew that he had not fully understood the depth of the situation.

She sighed, almost in an agitated way. "Jounouchi, what he means is that you may die ten years from now. There's really nothing we can do about it."

"But..." Immediately, the doctor was silenced by the nasty glare she sent his way.

Wincing, he remained silent, but he hated the harshness in her words. Parents who cared never stated something as serious as this so bluntly, and especially to a mere child. This child would have to suffer with the sad and plain fact; no sweet heavenly stories would be offered to coat the pain.

Of course nothing in life is ever hopeless. There were methods, treatments that could delay the date of expiration, if not bring about a total cure. The doctor had tried to offer these alternatives, but his feeble suggestions hit the impenetrable wall of poverty. Jounouchi's mother knew they would never be able to afford such costly medical bills, and with a cruel sort of mercy, she sought fit to deny the boy any hope at any chance of recovery.

As expected, the small boy burst into tears and muffled sobs. They watched helplessly as the young one curled up into a ball upon the examination table and wept. His mother tried desperately to comfort him, in her own fashion.

"Stop crying, Jounouchi. You must realize that not many people with cancer get to live as long as ten years once diagnosed. Besides, you should just forget about it and think about your sister instead. She'll be blind in a matter of years and crippled for the rest of her life. She'll be suffering much longer than you will."

It was twisted reasoning but strangely enough, the warped logic made sense, especially in a mind that was desperately searching for an upside to the problem. Jounouchi's cries gradually ceased in volume until they were reduced to pitiful whimpers. Then the doctor reluctantly vocalized his final diagnosis.

"The symptoms... Will be painful – migraines, nausea, concussions... Fortunately these won't occur until within a year of your... Well a year before it reaches terminal stage. Until then, you can completely enjoy life without the disabilities that other sick children have." He smiled grimly.

Eventually, they left the office but not before it became clear to Jounouchi that his sister, Shizuka, should never be told of his illness - though for a reason that was beyond him.

- End Flashback Sequence -

The cafeteria was crowded as usual when the group sat down to lunch, but Jounouchi, when faced with his own tray of food, found that he had lost his normal appetite.

"Hey, Honda."

Looking up from his nearly empty plate, Honda swallowed what he'd already had in his mouth before fixing his gaze on his best friend.


"You want this?" He motioned towards his own plate.

Honda stared at him. "Aren't you going to eat that?"

Shrugging, Jounouchi pushed his tray towards him. "Not really."

All four of his friends stared at him in shock. Yugi had his fork halfway to his mouth and Ryou had paused in the middle of a bite from his apple. Jounouchi flushed.

"Are you sure?" Yugi asked, concern evident in his voice.

"Yeah, yeah. It's no problem. I just had a lot to eat this morning, that's all."

"Jounouchi, not hungry? Has the world come to an end!" Anzu exclaimed as she sat down opposite of Yugi with a bowl of salad.

"Anzu, don't be mean. Jounouchi could be really sick." Yugi told her before getting up to put his tray away.

"Yes. Maybe you should see the nurse." Ryou advised.

By now, Jounouchi had become completely red in the face from all the attention that he was receiving, something that was really starting to irk him. Plastering on one of his trademark grins, he flashed his friends a thumbs up sign.

"No! You guys, really, I'm fine! I just don't want to waste food, that's all!"

"If you're sure…"

"Go ahead Honda! It's not like I'm going to die if I missed just this one meal!"

Anzu smirked. "You probably will. The bottomless pit could never be satisfied and never will."

"Anzu!" Said Yugi.


Jounouchi sighed heavily before switching his backpack to his left shoulder. A small headache had started just an hour before and steadily grown worse until the pain only seemed to lessen when he kept his eyes focused on the tiled floor as he walked.

Unfortunately with his head down, he couldn't see where he was going. His head abruptly collided sharply with something firm that not only caused his pain senses to go reeling into unbearable heights, but also caused him to fall to the floor.

"Ow…What the Hell did I hit?" He groaned, holding his head in his hands.

"Dumb dog. Watch where you're going." Sneered a voice that seemed much too familiar.

Slowly, Jounouchi looked up and into the glaring face of Seto Kaiba. Groaning more with anger than with pain this time, he began to pick up his scattered things.

"Oh, shut up, Kaiba. YOU should have been watching where you were going!"

"Whatever, mutt."

Rising to his feet, Jounouchi glared at him for a moment longer before side stepping around Seto and stomping angrily away. Just as he was about to exit through the school's front doors, however, he heard Seto's voice call out to him and turned around.

"What now?" He called back, annoyed.

Seto smirked, enjoying the way that the stupid dog looked when agitated. "You should know... There's a new student coming."

Jounouchi, ignoring his throbbing headache, raised an eyebrow at the strange, out of nowhere piece of information. "So?"

Shrugging, Seto turned around and began walking in the opposite direction. "Just thought that you might like to know… All things considered..."

Disliking the fact that he had no idea what Seto was talking about, Jounouchi cursed softly beneath his breath. "How the Hell would you know anything at all!"

"You forget that I can hack into any computer mainframe, pup."

"Quit calling me a dog, you jerk!"


The wooden door to his home was cracked and slightly ajar, indicating that it was unlocked. Jounouchi stared gloomily at it, not really wanting to go inside. He'd heard shouts from within, from his drunken father, and knew instantly that he wasn't in a good mood. What's more was that he'd also heard the breaking of glass. He softly kicked the door open with his foot and peered cautiously inside.

Beer cans and broken glass littered the floor; old stains from spilled alcoholic beverages dotted what was once a beige colored rug. Even the light fixture attached to the ceiling had a shattered bulb. What little light there was came from the partially boarded windows and a single working lamp that sat amongst piles of junk on a desk.

Stepping inside once he couldn't spot his father anywhere in the living room, Jounouchi inwardly winced when he heard more shouts and crashes that came from the kitchen.

"What tha fuck are ya tryin' ta say!…" Crash. "Ah, ya fuckin' bitch. Jus' go back ta tha fuckin' Whore Land where ya came from..." Crash.

Jounouchi sighed, a look of disgust on his face when he realized that his father was talking to himself again, and in the slurred speech of a drunk. Taking off his shoes and placing his backpack in a corner, he tried his best to clean up the giant mess in the room when heavy footsteps alerted him to his father's presence. Warily, Jounouchi paused in his work to look at the man slouching against the doorframe, noting briefly the broken bottle that he held.

"Whatchoo' doin' boy?" The older man demanded, blood shot eyes unfocused and half-covered by droopy eyelids.

Jounouchi lifted slightly the bag of trash that he held. "Cleaning."

"Just leave 'at alone. It'll clean itself." Slowly, he unsteadily raised his arm and tried to drink out of the empty bottle. Finding that he couldn't, he threw it into a nearby wall where it smashed into dangerous shards. "Ah, fuck it."

Jounouchi shook his head and resumed picking up the various pieces of trash around the room.

"Hey! I said ta fuckin' leave 'at alone!"

"It's not going to clean itself, otou-san." Jounouchi instantly regretted his response.

Immediately, the man began to stagger angrily towards his son. Raising his fist in a threatening manner, his voice which had just been bordering on the line of anger, now raged into all out fury.

"Who said 'at ya could defy me, ya little sonuva bitch!"

Dropping the bag, Jounouchi slowly backed away from his father's advance. Consequently, a shard of glass pierced through his sock and he bit back a yelp. Blood seeped out onto the rug and he reached down to pull it out. Seeing an opportunity, the man reached forward and roughly shoved him back, causing Jounouchi to step on more broken glass before tripping backwards on a stray drink coaster and falling onto a broken wooden coffee table.

Biting his lip, Jounouchi tried to ignore the pain. Aside from the glass shards, he now had wooden splinters embedded in his arm. Rising unsteadily, he faced the outraged man, determined not to show him any weakness.

"I was just trying to help." He stated with little emotion.

If possible, his father's face grew even redder. "Help!" He shouted, spit flying from his mouth. "You're nothin' more'n trouble, you bastard! I've been puttin' up wit your fuckin' existence fer years! And this is how ya repay me? By not listenin' to what I say!"

Grabbing onto the collar of Jounouchi's uniform and yanking him forward, his father sneered into his face, allowing his alcoholic breath to nearly choke the younger boy's lungs. The blonde struggled in vain against the grip but although the man was drunk, his much larger form had immense strength.

"Well, I'll just have ta teach ya how ta listen."

Grinning sadistically, the drunk curled his hand into a fist and slammed it hard against his son's face. Jounouchi screamed as intense pain flooded his senses. A pain worse than he had ever felt before. His vision swam in and out of focus and he clutched his head in agony. Hot tears coursed their way down his face and dripped onto the floor.

Vaguely, Jounouchi felt himself being dropped and he instinctively curled into a ball on the floor, trying desperately to rid himself of the pain in his head. He barely heard the muttered obscenities from his father and the sound of his retreating footsteps.


The bell was about to ring in less than a few minutes and Yugi stared worriedly at Jounouchi's vacant seat. Although Jounouchi wasn't exactly known for being punctual, he was never exactly known to be this late either. Yugi looked towards his equally worried friend, Honda, who could only give him the same confused expression that both Ryou and Anzu had given him. He sighed.



-I'm worried. Jounouchi hasn't arrived yet and he didn't seem like himself yesterday.-

--Don't worry, aibou. I'm sure he's fine.--

-I hope you're right…-

Yugi looked towards the clock and held his breath. The second hand had thirty seconds before the school bell would ring. It felt as if a bomb was ticking its way down to the inevitable explosion.

Without warning, the classroom door slammed open to reveal the missing blonde who quickly hurried to his seat near Yugi. It was hard to see his face with all his rushed movements, but once they had a clear look, they all gasped in shock.

"Jounouchi, what happened to you!" Yugi demanded.

"Wha-? Oh, you mean this?" The blonde pointed to the severely darkened patch of skin over his cheek bone. They nodded.

Jounouchi grinned and played embarrassment, a lie easily falling from his lips. "It's nothing, actually. Haha. You see, this morning I accidentally tripped while getting out of bed and hit the bedpost..."

"The clumsy mutt does it again, to everyone's great amusement." Seto's smirk could be seen from across the room. A few other students laughed.

"Shut up, Kaiba." Jounouchi spat back. "Why don't you just-!"

The abrupt school bell effectively cut him off and grumbling, Jounouchi settled back into his seat like everyone else. With morning announcements came boredom and he proceeded to have a pencil fight with Honda.

Meanwhile, Seto, on the other side of the room and in his own mind, hadn't bought the lie at all. It was too quick and too simple. Past experiences had taught him how to see through a mask and he could tell that the puppy's grin wasn't entirely real. Not to mention that tripping into a bedpost shouldn't have caused a bruise that severe, unless of course he was purposely banging his head on it. Ridiculous.

Seto narrowed his eyes just thinking about it. There was a slight chance that he'd gotten into a fight with someone. He'd done it before. But why lie?

Why are you even contemplating this? Seto chastised himself. It's none of your concern. Why waste thoughts over a pathetic dog.

He shook his head in an attempt to clear his thoughts and tried to focus more on the (boring) school announcements.


Lunch that day was almost a repeat of the previous. Jounouchi couldn't get himself to eat. Either it was the guilt from having to lie and conceal from his friends the truth or the mere disturbing fact itself, but he'd completely lost his appetite, to the great worry of his friends.

"Not hungry again?" Ryou asked after noticing that Jounouchi had literally just been pecking at his food for the past few minutes. The blonde shot him a skeptical look.

"You expect me to eat…this?" He said, gesturing towards a sandwich that closely resembled a squashed potato.

"Jounouchi! You're known to eat anything! Even things that aren't edible!" Anzu laughed.

Jounouchi puffed out his cheeks in mock anger and glared at her across the table. Honda, who'd just been about to flick something that was black and dead into Ryou's lunch with a spork, looked up and stared suspiciously at Jounouchi next to him.

"You should eat, you know." He stated bluntly.

"Yeah, I'm going to." Jounouchi replied. To prove that he actually was going to eat, he picked up the sandwich and bit, chewing slowly and carefully.

Anzu gazed at him in shock. "Wow, look at that you guys! Jounouchi's eating normally for once!"

Yugi sighed wearily and decided to ignore Anzu. With some amusement he watched as Honda's mission actually turned out to be a success when the black and dead thing landed perfectly in Ryou's open container of chocolate pudding without him noticing.


--You okay?--

-Of course I am. Just remind me never to leave any of my food unattended.-

--Sure, alright…But why do you ask?--

-I might end up eating unidentifiable things that are black and dead…-

--You have the strangest friends, aibou.--

-No stranger than you.-

--What do you mean?--

-You're technically just a voice in my head. Any counselor would think I'm crazy.- Grin.



A loud scream pierced through the noisy cafeteria, automatically silencing all other chatter.


Turning towards the doors, Joey gasped at who he saw.

- To Be Continued -

Ryou: You know, that was very mean of Honda to do that.

Honda: -innocent halo- Do what?

Ryou: Yugi told me. You flicked something black and dead into my lunch! How unsanitary is that?

Honda: At least it was dead?

Ryou: That's just it! Obviously, it used to be alive. What DID you flick into my lunch!

Honda: …Come to think of it, I have no idea...

-a cricket chirps in the background-

Author's Notes:
- I don't know Jounouchi's parents' names so I will always refer to them as 'his mother' or 'his father.'
- I realize that Jounouchi's first name is 'Katsuya' but for the sake of habit, let's reverse his name – henceforth, 'Katsuya' is now his last name. After all, no where that I have seen is he regularly referred to as Katsuya, even by his closest friends. Oo;

IMPORTANT: I have NOT actually seen anything of the Yugioh series beyond the Battle City arc, so please keep that in mind as you read. I know by now Yugioh has branched out and grown, even into a whole new series (Yugioh GX? Gah.), but I refuse to alter the original Yugioh gang and refer to characters or incidents that I know nothing about. This is 'old school' Yugioh, readers. This is where I am most content. Thanks for understanding.